From Facebook to the Second Lebanon War - What Happened While Shalit Was Imprisoned?

Haaretz takes a look at some of the events that occurred in Israel and around the world in the five years Gilad Shalit was held captive by Hamas in Gaza.


July 8
Media reports come out of a meeting between then President Moshe Katsav and then Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, in which Katsav said one of his former female employees was trying to blackmail him, claiming he had sexually harassed her.

Lebanon War - Alon Ron - 2006
Alon Ron

However, soon several other fromer employees reported that Katsav had harassed and even raped them. An investigation is opened by the police, culminating with the suibmission of a severe inditment.

On December 30, 2010 Katsav is convicted of two counts of rape, along with sexual harassment and attack. Several months later he was sentenced to 7 years in prison. The former president appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court, and the execuation of the sentence is pending the court's decision.

Katsav was followed in office by President President Shimon Peres.

July 12
Hezbollah kidnaps IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev on the northern border, and kills eight other soldiers. The event sparks the Second Lebanon War, which begins with aerial bombardments of targets in Lebanon, followed by IDF ground forces which entered Lebanon.

Throughout the war, Hezbollah launches rockets toward Northern Israel, including Haifa. The war ends after approximately a month, and the IDF retreats back to the border. 44 Israeli civilians and 121 IDF soldiers were killed during the war.

September 11
The Facebook social network goes public. The network gains huge popularity, with approximately 800 million users today. Facebook's influence goes beyond the limitations of the Internet, and becomes one of the factors that made the Arab Spring uprisings possible.

Other notable events
Dorit Beinish becomes the first woman to be appointed Israel's Supreme Court president; Saddam Hussein is executed; Italy wins the World Cup in soccer.


April 30
The partial report by a government-appointed committee probing the Second Lebanon War on Monday accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of "severe failure" in exercising judgment, responsibility and caution during the outset of the war.

The findings level heavy criticism at Defense Minister Amir Peretz for being unaware of the state of the Israel Defense Forces, even though he should have been.

Dan Halutz, who was IDF chief of staff at the time, was criticized for entering the war "unprepared," and for failing to inform the cabinet of the true state of the IDF ahead of the ground operation.

Fierce internecine fighting between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip sees the Islamist movement rout security officials loyal to Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and seizes control of the territory. The Gaza Strip and the Fatah-run West Bank become divided politically as well as geographically.

June 29
Apple launces the iPhone, its revolutionary cellular phone. The device is mainly a touchscreen, and tens of millions of units have been sold around the world.

September 6
According to foreign media reports, Israel Air Force bombs and destroys a nuclear plant in Syria. Israel and Syria do not issue official responses.

November 27
The Annapolis conference opens in The U.S., attended by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The conference is aimed at restarting negotiations.

Other notable events
Israel's teachers union goes on the longest strike in the country's history – 64 days; A new two-shekel coin is introduced; Ban Ki-moon appointed UN Secretary General; Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is assasinated; The last Harry Potter book is published.


April 1
Jerusalem District Court convicts Shas MK Shlomo Benizri of accepting hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes, breach of trust, and conspiracy to commit a crime. On September 1 he begins serving his 4-year sentence.

June 4
The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday convicts former Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson of multimillion shekel fraud. Hirchson was on trial for stealing NIS 2.5 million from the National Workers Organization while serving as its chairman. On September 1 he begins serving his 5-years and five-month sentence.

July 16
Hezbollah hands over to Israel the remains of two Israel Defense Forces reservists, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, over two years after they were abducted in a cross-border raid by the Lebanese guerilla group.

In return, Israel releases the notorious Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, jailed in Israel for nearly three decades for his role in a 1979 attack in Nahariya that left 4 Israelis dead, including three members of the same family.

September 21
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert submits his resignation to President Shimon Peres after almost 33 months in office, amid a number of corruption allegations, after a tenure troubled by Israel's inconclusive 2006 war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas and months of peace talks with the Palestinians that have yielded no breakthroughs.

November 4
Democrat Barack Obama becomes the first black man to be elected U.S. President. A few months after his election Obama speaks in Cairo and promises to open a new page with the Muslim world. Obama also vows to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and find a solutionto the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet support for Obama has been eroding, and stands today at about 50 percent.

November 27
Israel launches Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza in response to ongoing rocket and mortar attacks. The operation ends on January 21. Ten IDF soldiers are killed in the fighting and hundreds of Palestinian militants and civilians.

Following the operation, the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict is established, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, a Jewish retired justice from South Africa. The mission's final report is released on September 15 and accuses both the IDF and Palestinian militants of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Other notable events:
A Palestinian from East Jerusalem kills eight students in Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Western Jerusalem; 24 Russian tourists are killed in Israel's worst road crash, after their bus plunges from a cliff in southern Israel; Paul McCartney performs in Israel for the first time; Dmitri Medvedev elected Russian President; 70,000 people are killed after a 7.9 earthquake strikes China; American swimmer Michael Phelps wins 8 gold medals and breaks 7 world records in the Olympic Games in Beijing.


February 10
Elections for the 18thKnesset take place. The results: 28 seats for Kadima, with Tzipi Livni as party leader, 27 seats for Likud, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, 15 seats for Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, and 13 seats for Labor.

Although Kadima secure a larger number ofseats in the Knesset, more Knesset members prefer that Benjamin Netanyahu become prime minister, and therefore President Shimon Peres instructs him to form a governing coalition.

March 31
The 32nd governmentof the State of Israel sworn in. Ehud Barak becomes Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman appointed Foreign Minister, Yuval Steinitz receives the post of Finance Minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch assumes the office of Public Security Minister, and Gideon Saar takes on the position of Education Minister.

July 14
Netanyahu delivers a speech aboutsecurity issues at Bar Ilan University in which he in principle supports a Palestinian state and the concept of “two states for two peoples.”

August 20
Entertainer Dudu Topaz, arrested and charged withcontracting for several media personalities to be assaulted, commits suicide byhanging himself in his prison cell.

September 13
Air Force pilot Assaf Ramon, first-born son of the first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, is killed when his plane crashes near Hebron. Ramon had completed his fighter pilot course with honors, just like his father.

November 25
Netanyahu decides to freeze construction in thes ettlements for ten months, after heavy pressure from the Obama administration. Over the course of the freeze, direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are supposed to take place, and in fact do so in September 2010. Soon after, however, the talks end prematurely.

Other notable events
Pope Benedict XVI visits Israel and the Palestinian Authority; An armed man enters a queer community center in Tel Aviv in the middle of a meeting of LGBT youth and kills two of them – the man hasn ever been caught; Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is charged with corruption; Israeli Ada Yonath wins the Nobel Prize for chemistry.


May 31
13 IDF commandos take over a flotilla of Turkish ships heading to Gaza. According to its organizers, the goal of the flotilla was to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and end the naval siege that was imposed upon it when Hamas took power. In the course of the operation, the commandos kill nine of the Turkish passengers, one of whom was also American.

July 25
WikiLeaks publicizes 90,000 documents about the U.S.’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In November, the organization releases 250,000 diplomatic cables of the U.S. State Department. The leaks cause great embarrassmentfor many leaders all over the world, when their private conversations were publicly revealed.

August 3
For the first time since the Second Lebanon War, a serious incident occurs on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Lebanese soldier shoot and kill two IDF soldiers. Israel returns fire, killing four Lebanese.

August 6
Channel 2 exposes the ‘Galant document’, a file written on the stationary of a public relations firm, detailing efforts topresent a positive image of the candidate for the position of IDF Chief of Staff, and to present negative images of the other candidates for the position.

December 2
The largest fire in the history of the State of Israel breaks out in the Galilee and continues for four days. A bus transporting 38 prison service cadets becomes trapped in the blaze and all are killed. Six police officers and firefighters who tried to save them also die. In the wake of the tragedy, reforming the firefighting services in Israel becomes a national priority.

Other notable events
According to reports in the foreign media, Mossad agents assassinate a Hamas agent responsible for transferring weaponsfrom Iran to Gaza; Six Israeli airmen are killed in a training exercise in Romania; a 7.0 earthquake renders the island nation of Haiti asunder, causing grave damage and the deaths of 200,000 people.

A Polish plane crashes in Russia, killing most of the country’s leadership, including the prime minister and his wife, the army’s chief of staff and various senators; The first tablet computer, the Apple iPad, goes on sale; Spain wins the World Cup in soccer; 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days are finally freed, capturing the imagination of the world.


January 13
Tunisian President Ben Ali flees the country and is stripped of power after riots that erupted two weeks earlier. The demonstrators protest his dictatorial regime, corruption, poverty, unemployment, lack of freedom of expression, and more. The uprising sets off a chain of revolutions across the Arab world, earning the name “Arab Spring of Nations”.


Protests spread to Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Yemen, and other countries. Demonstrations in Egypt lead to the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak; in Yemen, President Saleh leaves the country, but returns three months later; in Libya, a civil war breaks out between soldiers loyal to leader Muammar Gadhafi and rebels seeking to drive him from power.

In Syria, 3,000 protesters have been killed by security forces, but President Bashar Assad retains his hold on power.

February 1
The appointment of Yoav Galant to IDF Chief of Staff to replace Gabi Ashkenazi is cancelled after it had already beena nnounced. The cancellation follows accusations that he illegally took control over lands surrounding his residence in Amikam. Benny Gantz is appointed instead, and holds the position until now.

March 11
Five members of the Fogel family of the West Bank settlement of Itamar, including a three-year-old boy and a four-month-old baby, are murdered in their sleep. Two West Bank Palestinians are convicted by military court of the crime and are awaiting sentencing.

A social protest movement sweeps the country, after a number of students set up tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, in protest of the high cost of rental apartments in the city. Tent cities quickly spruig up across the country and thousands of protesters take to the streets, culminating in a demonstration of 400,000 people.

August 18
Eight Israelis are killed in a coordinated terror attack by terrorists who crossed the Egyptian-Israeli border.

September 23
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formally requests of the United Nations Security Council to recognize an independent Palestinian state. The formal vote has not yet taken place, but the United States has already announced that it plans to veto the proposal. Abbas has said that if that happens, he will take the proposal to the UN General Assembly.

Other notable events
The Iron Dome defense system, intendedto shoot down short-range missiles, begins operation, shooting down rockets from Gaza; The light rail system in Jerusalem begins operation, after 9 years of planning; A tsunami leads to the death of 14,000 people in Japan and a nuclear scare; American commandos kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan; Prince William, in line for the British throne, marries Kate Middleton; South Sudan announces its independence and is welcomed into the family of nations.